Oregon City High School Bagpipe Performance

November 5th, 2008

The students and faculty at Oregon City High School held their third annual Veterans Commemoration ceremony on Tuesday, August 4th (election day) and they so graciously asked me to bag pipe at a small interval during the performance. The performance lasted for a total of 1.5 hours and was witnessed by a packed house of 1500 students, faculty and veterans. During the memorable ceremony, they honored the National Guard, Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. Past students of Oregon City High School who perished in Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan and the Iraq war were all honored. The speakers ranged from ROTC high school students, to current soldiers in the Iraq war and war veterans who have gone on to encourage and inspire the younger generations. The service underscored the fact the numerous privileges us Americans have as a result of the courageous individuals who served our beautiful nation. The susceptible minds of the student body offered their cheers and patriotism at every possible interval. I was utterly amazed at the turnout and respect such a young aspiring generation offered. I don’t remember a single event in my high school years which remotely compared to this important and historic event.

My role including playing piping Amazing Grace in the first half of the ceremony. With the accompaniment of two ROTC students, I led a memorial plaque, dedicated to the lost lives of several Oregon City High School students. It was a slow and methodical march up to the center from the back. As I approached the center, I did a half turn and continued bagpiping Amazing Grace a second time through.

I don’t know if it was because of the large crowd or importance of the event, but I was extremely nervous. I rarely even get nervous when I perform in solo and band competitions but on this particular day, I really had to suppress my nerves and carry forth. What a great event, I really hope I am invited back next year.

Lincoln City Oregon Bagpiper

October 4th, 2008

I was invited to bagpipe in Lincoln City Oregon for a 70th birthday party. What a party it was!

I arrived around 5:30PM and without tuning my pipes, I was instructed to march straight into the house and head directly for the side door. The only problem was the ceiling on the porch was too low and angled to blow up my bag pipe and begin marching so I slightly cheated by striking my pipes just after opening the door. It still had the same enchanting and charming effect. As I began my 6/8 march, I immediately noticed the women in front of me full of shock and disbelief. This I thought must be the birthday girl. After the shock had subsided, tears filled her eyes (tears of joy I hope). I quickly marched toward the glass doors and outside onto the deck overlooking the beach and the south side of Lincoln City Oregon.

While playing, the neighbors had arrived and pictures were being snapped from all angles, I might have been the biggest celebrity in Lincoln City Oregon (besides who was performing at Chinook Winds Casino). After a set of 6/8 marches (Miss Ishabel & Duncan McGillvary – found in the Portland Pipe Music section), I quit my pipes and introduced myself as the birthday bagpiper and gave the the birthday girl a huge hug.

Following the formalities, we filled up a bucket of beers (good beers, including PBR) and headed to the beach. I marched, piping a set of 3/4 marches. I launched from one into another without a clue that I knew so many (I should add those to the music section). The walk was easy with no steps or boulders to climb however once I hit the beach I went from a march pace to a down trotted crawl. Marching with bagpipes in sand should be avoided at all cost and additionally, I probably looked hilarious doing it.

That particular Saturday at the Lincoln City with bagpipes was absolutely gorgeous. This was the second time I came from Portland to bagpipe at the Oregon Coast. The first I could barely maneuver my fingers fast enough to keep up with the tunes. Thanks to the warmth of the sun, my fingers felt lucid and alive. I did stay away from the Jigs and Hornpipes in case the weather took a turn for the worse. You never know on the Oregon Coast. I played mostly slow marches and slow airs which I felt was appropriate for the beach. We drank, laughed and told stories of Scotland and Ireland. It was a very knowledgeable bunch of people.

After arriving back in the Lincoln City beach cabin and before dinner, I choose to perform our new band medley for the group. A medley is a compilation of jigs, hornpipes, reels, strathspeys and slow airs. It is the medley the Portland Metro Pipe Band will be competing with this summer. I finished with bagpiping a traditional March, Strasthspey, Reel commonly referred too as an MSR.

With dinner came more drinking, roast beef, cabbage, potatoes and short bread – a traditional Irish meal. What a day, I was pooped.

Lake Oswego Oregon Piper at Millenium Park

September 7th, 2008

I was contacted to play my bagpipes in Lake Oswego Oregon as celebration for a departing young lady heading abroad to continue her studies. It was a very charming affair. Friends of the family made shirts depicting the celebratory guest, set up a boating outing and hired me-Portland Piper Dan DelMain.

I was scheduled to pipe at 5:30 on the 2nd dock overlooking Lake Oswego. The goal was to have me piping as the boat ferrying the guests came to dock in port. It was a beautiful Wednesday evening, so beautiful I had a hard time seeing anything with the glare of the sun. As boats came and went, waving their hands in appreciation of the music, I couldn’t tell who the group of 7 I was suppose to be honoring. Finally, they arrived. The shirts indicated so.

I bagpiped a few minutes as they tied the boat and grabbed what they needed. Once assembled we chatted, took a few pictures and discussed what to do next. It was decided I would pipe them into Millennium Park along State street from where we were. Dodging and weaving the incoming cyclists and strollers with cars zooming by at 40mph, I arrived safely at my destination. From here I played a variety of slow aires, marches and other applicable Portland Pipe tunes in front of the fountain in downtown Lake Oswego. After three sets, I piped the group across the tracks, up the stairs and left them in front of Manzana restaurant where their table awaited them. The orchestrator of the event thanked me and even added I was “a stand up guy”. I turned and fled the scene from the same way I arrived, piping all the way.

Salem Oregon Bagpiper

August 17th, 2008

Commuting to Tuner Oregon for a bagpipe wedding performance? No problem. People always wonder how far I am willing to travel to bagpipe and I never seem to dissapoint. I was asked the other day if I would be willing to travel to Klamath Falls Oregon for a funeral. If I have time and my schedule permits, the answer is always a resounding “of course I would”.

Yesterday, I performed for a charming little wedding set in the backdrop of Tuner Oregon (just south of Salem on I-5). The wedding was located on a farm overlooking miles and miles of true Oregon pasture. It was a medium sized wedding. In all, there were around 70 – 80 guests. I warmed up with a series of marches and appropriate wedding tunes as guests mingled and drank to keep cool. It was over 100 degrees. Once the ceremony was to begin, I took my position in the back near the entrance of the house. On cue, I stepped forward and played Scotland the Brave for the Bridesmaid, Groomsman and the flower girl/little boy usher. Upon which I transitioned into Mari’s Wedding, a popular and very traditional wedding tune for the bride. After the vows were read and stories shared, I entered stage right and piped the newlywed’s out the same way they entered with Donald McClellan of Rothesay, an euphoric and lively tune as the crowd cheered.

After which, I was invited to join them for dinner and refreshments. They actually got the Philly Cheesesteak restaurant from Portland to cater their wedding. What a great treat. I thought the idea was priceless and the food was excellent. One women agreed it was the only place in Portland whose Philly Cheesesteaks rivaled those of Philadelphia.

Around 8:30PM, I drove back to Portland exhausted from the heat but delighted to have shared in such a memorable wedding. Why don’t more weddings in the Portland surrounding area have a bagpiper, especially since Oregon is so scenic.

North Plains OR Parade Witnesses One Man Bagpiper Brigade

August 14th, 2008

Last Saturday I performed at the North Plains Oregon Garlic Festival. What a cool event. The locals came out in droves to show their appreciation for the local floats and performers. Normally, when I participate in parades, I have back up. Like 8 other bagpipers and 4 drummers.

Centered between the David Wu team and a giant Elephant (like 30 feet in height), I was a one man wrecking crew and it was nice to garner the attention of the local Oregonians. They cheered and clapped as I strode by. For the few moments I wasn’t playing my bagpipes, they would start yelling, “hey Scottish guy, play them pipes” or “do you know Scotland the Brave (bagpipe music sample)”. I always appreciate encouragement. It is much better then hearing, “um, could you please quit killing that cat under your arm”.

All in all, the North Plains Garlic Festival lasted about 40 minutes from start to finish. One of the kids band members from the Sir James McDonald pipe band (the band I currently instruct) from Portland even saw me. I guess he tried to get my attention but I didn’t notice because I was so focused on marching. Like I said earlier, what a great event. The organizer was a very nice lady who showered me with compliments. Hopefully I get invited back to next years Oregon event.

SE Portland Bagpiper Strikes a Tune at Oaks Park

August 3rd, 2008

Well in advance, I was asked to play for the most lovely wedding. It took place at Oaks Pioneer Church in SE Portland, just up the street from one of my favorites as a kid, Oaks Park Amusement Park. The church itself is quaint, charming and absolutely breathtaking. Those traits usually fit quite nicely with a bagpiper but unfortunately with this church the ceiling was quite low and the ability to disappear down an aisle or out an exit was non existent. Thus I played from outside the doors.

For the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, I bagpiped a Portland Wedding favorite, Scotland the Brave. A great tune because it’s highly recognizable and makes everyone think of the Scottish Highlands. After a couple times through and once the guests had been seated, it was the brides turn. She elected to have Skye Boat Song as her personal tune. As I piped her and her father in, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the whole scenery and the bride looked. I almost would have guessed we were perfectly in sink; myself, the father and the bride. Maybe I was playing to their beat or maybe they were following me. But whatever the case, it was well orchestrated. The Portland Oaks Park Church had come alive.

As the Bride and Groom officially married, headed to the exits, I played a lively upbeat 6/8 march named Duncan McGillvary. After they had filed out, I continued playing until the remaining guests had shuffled out. The smiles on everyone’s face beamed for miles and was probably felt on North Mississippi. Once the new couple had been whisked away in their chariot for the reception, people approached me in droves to offer their encouraging words. My personal favorite is when they compliment my playing. I should add a testimonial page to my Portland Bagpipe website. The Portland Bagpiper photos should be up soon.

Bagpiping in NW Portland

July 9th, 2008

Sub note: I apologize I haven’t been updating my blog for all those avid readers. The last eight weekends I have been out of town either at a Bagpipe Band competition or a Wedding Performance.

However, I did get to perform at the Armory at NW 11th this past Sunday for a lovely couple getting married. For all those who haven’t experienced the Armory, it is one Portland venue you don’t want to miss. When it’s not rented for private parties, many of the best Broadway shows in Portland can be witnessed here.

As usual, I met with the bride and groom a month before the wedding to select tunes and to go over the ceremony. Because I don’t normally partake it in rehearsals I always enjoy translating what I am told in our meeting to when I arrive and actual see the layout for the first time. This was no different.

I arrived promptly at 5:45PM in order to warm up my pipes and meet with the bagpipe wedding coordinator. The wedding layout, in terms of color scheme, table arrangement, food and drink selection was top notch. I even was fortunate enough to warm up on the actual stage where all the Broadway shows are preformed. The acoustics were out of this world. I wanted to stay and play my Portland bagpipe all night but as of course my first priority is the wedding.

For the processional, I stood at the top of the ledge overlooking the elegantly laid out dinner tables below and the guests on all sides gazing on. I ushered in the Bride and Groom with one of my favorites-Donald McCellan of Rothsey. It is a traditional and heavy 2/4 March, which I conveniently compete with, in my solo competitions. After playing all 4 parts, I stopped my pipes and headed back downstairs to await my next cue while the couple took their places.

After a short ceremony, followed by a lovely kiss, I reassumed the same position, just a couple of stairs down. My next task was to lead them down the stairs to the main room with Miss Ishabel, a very upbeat 6/8 March. While the tune itself I played well, I don’t know how I looked trying to march down a steep set of 20 stairs. I took my time, cautioning myself not to fall. Although it was probably quite comical for the guests to watch me attempt to march down stairs, I still managed to keep the beat in my head.

Once at the bottom, I cut my bagpipes and that was it. They Bride and Groom profusely thanked me, as well as the 200 guests. I really enjoyed playing for them and would perform at the Armory any day of the week.

Bagpiper Portland Accompanying Catlin Gabel Spring Festival

May 4th, 2008

The Spring Festival at Catlin Gabel was held today in honor of the students, parents and alumni. It was quite the celebration. There were numerous participants, food and games. And the best part was the weather was absolutely beautiful. I think days like today are the reason why Oregonians don’t complain too much about the rain.

I arrived in full dress: McDonald tartan, white shirt, black tie, black vest, white socks, etc. My task was to lead all the small children from the top most gather point and parade them into the bottom center field much to their parents delight. It was a quick trip. All in all, I think I played Scotland the Brave 4 times through and 2 each for Green Hills of Tyrol and When the Battle’s O’er. They also had a willow tree at the bottom where the kids eventually participated in Scottish dancing but they had previously planned on a music CD to accompany the dances. I volunteered my bagpipe playing but it had already been planned.

Very professional and well put together by the staff and volunteers of Catlin Gabel. They were very knowledgeable and friendly which made my job easier. I didn’t have to second guess on the direction I was leading the kids. I just focused on playing. If they have another bagpiper in Portland performance, I hope they call me. I had much fun.

Mollala OR Bagpipe Wedding

May 4th, 2008

On Saturday I found myself in Mollala OR playing my bagpipes for local couple’s marriage. It was held at Arrowhead Golf Club in a beautiful and scenic location. The wedding had both the attention of the many guests they invited but also the passerby golfers going about there Saturdays. This was a wedding which had been planned well in advance. I think we met to select tunes in December. They wanted two 6/8 marches for the march in of the bride and the march out of the couple. There choices were Miss Ishabel in and Lilly Christie out; two of my favorite tunes.

Luckily for everyone involved the weather held up and didn’t begin to trickle until after the guests headed for the reception. For the first 40 minutes I welcomed the arriving guests with my bagpipes. I choose to play mostly traditional marches and slow air’s hoping someone might recognize a tune or two. For whatever reason, we were slightly delayed because many of the guests hadn’t arrived. As the moment approached for the grandiose entrance, the bride came walking up the hill, signaled me to begin and off we went down the hill. After the short ceremony, I pulled my pipes and marched them out the same way they come in.

The strange thing about weddings is how nervous the bride and groom are and how frantically the choreographer runs around tidying up last minute details. I enjoy the spectacle and maybe I have this calming appreciation because of the numerous bagpiper in Portland weddings I have performed for. Each one gets a lot easier.

Bagpiper in Camas WA

March 24th, 2008

Shortly after a 1st Place victory at the BC Indoor Band competition, I was asked to play for a Birthday party in Camas Washington. If you wish to see the video, you can find it on my Portland Bagpipe home page. I arrived at 5:45 prompt to change out of my street clothes and into my full bagpipe Portland dress. I chose the McDonald tartan with black shirt and black hose. I like the all black look and many of my guests agree.

I played many traditional marches, including Scotland the Brave, Green Hills, When the Battles O’er, Bonnie Dundee and others. As is customary at all Birthdays, I also offered the “Happy Birthday” rendition on the bapipges. It was fun because all the guests were so inquisitive, asking everything from “what do you wear under the kilt” to “how did you start playing”, finishing with an explanation of how this enigmatic instrument works.

They promised me we would all reconvene at the Portland Highland Games in July at Mt. Hood Community College. Hope to see you guys there and Happy Birthday again Phil.